And all the congregation of the children of Israel journeyed from the wilderness of Sin, after their journeys, according to the commandment of the LORD, and pitched in Rephidim: and there was no water for the people to drink.
I. Amalek, as we learn from Deuteronomy 25:18, had "smitten the hindmost, even all that were feeble." The stragglers are always a temptation to the foe. The hindmost and the feeble are sure to be the first attacked, and therefore should have special care.
II. Joshua discomfited Amalek, not Moses or some other friend. Let us keep our bitterness for sin, and our swords for the King's enemies.
III. Amalek is not to be beaten without a fight. The struggle against sin is real, as we shall find to our cost if we are not wary.
IV. Moses was for each minding his own work, Joshua to fight, and himself to take the top of the hill.
V. Moses on the hill is an emblem of public prayer. There is a mystery about prayer that we cannot unravel. One of the bravest of Christian soldiers, scarred with many a fight, said, "I will therefore that men pray everywhere, lifting up holy hands."
VI. How much even the mightiest of men are dependent upon others much weaker than themselves. It was well for the fortunes of the day that Moses was not alone.
VII. An altar marked the place of battle, and glory was given to the Lord of hosts. The soldiers of the Cross should call the battlefields where they have won their bravest fights by the name of Him to whom they ascribe all might and majesty.
T. Champness, New Coins from Old Gold, p. 66.
Exodus 17:15I. The fight with Amalek was Israel's first battle, and God made it to them the revelation of the mystery of all battles—the unseen spiritual things on which depend the final issues of all struggles and the progress of the world. (1) The main purpose of Israel's history is the revelation of the unseen influences which mould the character and guide the progress of all people or minister to their decay and death. (a) The first apparent condition of success was the courage and skill of the commander and of the troops. The successes of life are to the capable, the brave, the enduring; but—and here is the great lesson of Rephidim—they are to capacity, courage, and energy married to, and not divorced from, the fear and the love of God. (b) There was a second and higher condition. Joshua fought while Moses was praying, and while he knew that Moses was praying. The people had a conscious hold on the strength of the arm of God. (2) It may be fairly asked if in all battles the victory is with those who can not only fight, but pray. The answer is that it is only on a very large scale that we can trace the ways of God. Yet we may say that in any conflict the best reinforcement, that which stands a man in best stead and raises the surest hope of victory, is the assurance that God is on his side.
II. The text is the revelation to us of the mystery of the great battle in which we are all combatants, the battle of life. "Jehovah-nissi" must be our watchword if we would not doom ourselves to go down before the foe. (1) The Lord is our banner against self, that baser part of us which is ever ensnaring, enslaving, and dragging us down into the pit. (2) The Lord is our banner against the world. (3) The Lord is our banner against the devil.
J. Baldwin Brown, The Sunday Afternoon, p. 235.
References: 27—Parker, vol. ii., p. 132. Exodus 18:1-27.—W. M. Taylor, Moses the Lawgiver, p. 164.
Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD?
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?
And Moses cried unto the LORD, saying, What shall I do unto this people? they be almost ready to stone me.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Go on before the people, and take with thee of the elders of Israel; and thy rod, wherewith thou smotest the river, take in thine hand, and go.
Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.
And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the LORD, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?
Then came Amalek, and fought with Israel in Rephidim.
And Moses said unto Joshua, Choose us out men, and go out, fight with Amalek: to morrow I will stand on the top of the hill with the rod of God in mine hand.
So Joshua did as Moses had said to him, and fought with Amalek: and Moses, Aaron, and Hur went up to the top of the hill.
And it came to pass, when Moses held up his hand, that Israel prevailed: and when he let down his hand, Amalek prevailed.
But Moses' hands were heavy; and they took a stone, and put it under him, and he sat thereon; and Aaron and Hur stayed up his hands, the one on the one side, and the other on the other side; and his hands were steady until the going down of the sun.
And Joshua discomfited Amalek and his people with the edge of the sword.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Write this for a memorial in a book, and rehearse it in the ears of Joshua: for I will utterly put out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven.
And Moses built an altar, and called the name of it Jehovahnissi:
For he said, Because the LORD hath sworn that the LORD will have war with Amalek from generation to generation.